The first five RAFALE jets will be inducted into IAF’s Golden Arrows squadron based at the Ambala Air Force base in Haryana on Wednesday, 29 July 2020.
For 10 long years, this deal had been delayed (AND ULTIMATELY NOT SIGNED) by the Congress-led UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh, the ‘accidental prime minister’ appointed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Despite this, now that the Rafales are in India, and realising that then party president Rahul Gandhi’s “chowkidar chor hai” jibe against Modi (accusing him of corruption) did not work in the 2019 elections, the Congress is trying to take credit for the deal.
The BJP-led Modi government completed the process in just 16 months. As per the terms of the deal SIGNED BY THE MODI GOVERNMENT, the manufacturer Dassault has to keep 75% of the Rafale fleet operational at any given time.
The unsigned UPA deal only provided for 50% to be operational.
Only 48% of the Russian Sukhoi-30 fleet and less than 30% of the Russian MiG fleets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) remain operational at any given point of time. Dassault will provide seven years’ Performance Base Logistics (PBL) support to all 36 jets. It will supply spares for seven years within the initial cost.
In the unsigned UPA deal, PBL support was for only for five years.
Dassault also agreed to make 13 India-specific modifications, including the integration of Israeli-made helmet-mounted displays, Doppler-beam radar, infrared search and track, flight data recorders with 10 hours of storage, electronic warfare and friend-or-foe identification systems, radio altimeters, low-band jammers, towed decoy systems, cold-weather-engine start-up devices for high-altitude airfields, among many other improvisations.
IAF’s Rafales have built-in Meteor BVRAAM missiles with 120+ Km range, MICA-RF BVRAAM missiles with 80+ Km range and MICA-IR close combat missiles with 60+ Km range, apart from assurances for coding extensions to under-development Indian weapons, including the Astra BVRAAM missiles.
The Rafales will also have air-to-ground Scalp missiles with a sated range of 250-km though media reports claim the weapon can go twice that distance, giving IAF the capability to hit targets inside Pakistan or Tibet, while still staying within Indian airspace. The Scalp uses a range of guidance options — GPS, inertial navigation, infra-red seeker and terrain reference. The Scalp also has a design that emphasises ‘low observability’ (stealth) and flies at very low level to avoid radar detection. The Rafale can carry two Scalp missiles, along with three large fuel tanks, in a long-range attack configuration. The Scalp will be the first ‘deep strike’ missile of the IAF. The addition of more Spice bombs and Scalp missiles is crucial for the IAF, given the relentless growth of China’s fighter fleet and also its development of air-launched cruise missiles. China’s fleet of H-6 bombers are being equipped with missiles like the CJ-20, which is estimated to have a range of over 1000-km.
There is a provision for 100% technology transfer to India, including the RBE2-AA active electronically scanned array radar system and its software source code. This advanced radar has very long detection and track ranges, fully automatic, sorting and ranking of tracked targets, automatic terrain following and avoidance, enroute update of target area situation, high resolution imagery modes and sea-skimming attacks for detection and multi-tracking.
Overall, the Rafale will leapfrog the Indian air defence and strike capability by at least 20 years, if not more.
India got delivery of the first two of its 36 French-made Rafales in October 2019, but the planes stayed in France until now for the training of IAF pilots and mechanics.
To read all about the ‘unsigned” UPA government deal, the signed NDA government deal, whether there was a scam or not, and how the Rafales will greatly enhance IAF’s defence and strike capabilities, you can get a copy of my book “EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT RAFALE BUT DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO FIND OUT” at just ₹49/- for the eBook HERE or just ₹299/- for the Paperback version HERE.